Thursday, October 28, 2010

End of Whale Watch Season - Halloween Whale Watch

NECWA and Captain John Boats collaborate on a Marine Wildlife Internship program. Captain John provides two free tickets each day for NECWA interns to accompany whale watching passengers offshore. NECWA interns assist with educational outreach while offshore and when on the whales, they collect sighting data and photographic/video information. Later, NECWA interns will analyze this information and share their findings with other research groups in the area.

This internship program is a wonderful way for students and professionals within the New England area to get experience in the field of marine biology and marine science. We want to thank Captain John Boats for providing this opportunity to NECWA interns since 2005.

This Sunday, October 31st, is our last day of whale watching for the 2010 season. To celebrate this event, Captain John Boats is offering a Halloween special (see below). We hope you can join us this Sunday for our last whale watching trip. By supporting Captain John Boats, you help support research, education and conservation activiites that NECWA staff and interns conduct on behalf of the whales and other unique coastal marine wildlife that feed off our New England shores.

Best, Krill
President, NECWA

A Spooktackular Event!

Sunday, October 31st - 12 noon Whale Watch

Join Captain John Boats for a Special Halloween Event!

Our last day of whale watching for this 2010 season is Sunday, October 31st - Halloween Day!

And on this very spooky day, children under 12 years old will ride free when they arrive for the whale watch dressed in their Halloween costum

What a treat!

And there will be Halloween candy for all ghosts and goblins!

No need to dress like a whale, just dress for this spooktacular occasion!

And don't forget to bring a jacket for it is a bit chilly, ghostly chilly, offshore.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010 - Scusset Beach Cleanup

Beach Cleanup at Scusset Beach

This morning, NECWA and Captain John Whale Watching & Fishing Tours (CJB) sponsored a beach cleanup at Scusset Beach within the Scusset Beach State Reservation. NECWA staff member Dominica Webster and NECWA/CJB staff member Krill Carson coordinated this event on behalf of both organizations.

This cleanup effort is part of the state-wide program called COASTSWEEP ( Coastsweep is the Commonwealth’s annual coastal cleanup program, organized by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and the Urban Harbors Institute of the University of Massachusetts Boston. NECWA and Captain John Boats are proud to support Coastsweep through their involvement in this program for the past 5 years.

Sixteen volunteers meet at 9 am at Scusset Beach, a beautiful beach on the shores of Cape Cod Bay. Scusset Beach is located within the Scusset Beach State Reservation, a windswept area that also borders the Cape Cod Canal. Winds were light out of the southwest and the sun was shining through the clouds, making this a perfect morning for a cleanup effort.

One of our volunteers brought their dog Haley, who was absolutely beautiful and such a sweetheart. Haley was a wonderful friend as she helped to keep our spirits high as we walked the beach in search of trash and other forms of marine debris.

After signing in, folks grouped-up into teams of 2, 3 or 4 members and headed out to the beach in search of marine debris. Each team carried trash bags and clipboards with data sheets provided by Coastsweep. These data sheets were used to help each team meticulously count and categorize each piece of marine debris that collected. In the upcoming days, Dominica will organize this data and will send a summary of our efforts to the Coastsweep coordinators.

Volunteers scoured not only the lower, sandy areas of the beach, but also the upper beach region dominated by beach grass and other tough stemmed plants. This is an area that is often ignored during cleanup efforts for the trash is difficult to see among the plant leaves and stems. But this upper beach area traps a great deal of garbage including plastic bags, cups and rope and therefore, should not be overlooked during any cleanup effort.

This year, John from the DCR (Department of Conservation and Recreation) was able to assist us with our cleanup effort. John moved up and down the beach in the DEC 4 X 4 mini rover, picking up large pieces of debris or garbage bags from each team. This made everyone's job so much easier as large and heavy items were quickly removed from the beach area. A BIG thank you to John and all his help over the course of the morning.

We collected quite a few interesting items from Scusset Beach including a kite, a seine net and a large piece of metal that had very sharp edges. And we collected numerous cigarette filters, plastic bags and short pieces of rope.

Around 10:30 am, everyone started wrapping up their cleanup efforts out on the beach and headed back to the sign-in station. Krill, John and Tammy headed over to the dumpster to weigh and dispose the trash and debris items that had been collected that morning. We were all amazed to learn that we had collected close to 70 pounds of garbage from Scusset Beach!

At the end of the cleanup effort, cleanup participants were treated to a scrumptious lunch that included deli subs, drinks and chips. As everyone enjoyed lunch, Dominica gave away free prizes to thank everyone for their efforts that morning. These prizes included NECWA t-shirts and hats, Coastsweep t-shirts, stuffed toys and wildlife DVDs.

NECWA and Captain John Boats wants to thank all our volunteers for their time and effort. This cleanup effort was a huge success and a lot of fun. We thank everyone for volunteering their morning to address the issue of marine debris on our local beaches. This beach cleanup effort allowed us to reconnect with old friends and meet many new ones who share our love for the oceans and the unique coastal marine wildlife that live along our shores.

We will be back at Scusset Beach next fall for another Coastsweep cleanup. We hope you can join us in our efforts to keep our beaches and coastal waters free of plastics, metals, ghost fishing gear and other human-derived objects. Everyone can make a difference in our fight to protect our ocean environments. So join us and become part of the solution to the issues surrounding marine debris.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday, October 22, 2010

Live Ocean Sunfish Stranding - Scusset Beach State Pier

Aerial view - Scusset Beach to right of the canal entrance

This afternoon Cape Cod Canal Rangers from the US Army Corp of Engineers were alerted that a live ocean ocean sunfish that had accidentally gotten wedged between the pilings of the Scusset Beach Fishing Pier. This pier is situated in the Scusset Beach State Reservation and juts out into the swift, cold waters of the Cape Cod Canal. The tide was ebbing (going out) so the water under the Fishing Pier was dropping. This created a very dangerous situation for the ocean sunfish for without water, the fish would not be able to breathe.

The Canal Rangers called Krill and she alerted other NECWA staff members who might be available to assist with this rescue effort. Dominica and Bob were able to join Krill as they all met at the Scusset Beach Fishing Pier ready to help out in any way possible. Dominica did a fabulous job of taking photographs of the rescue attempt and Bob helped pull and lift the animal.

Krill also called her good friend and NECWA supporter, Greg McGrath. Greg has assisted with ocean sunfish strandings in the past and is a good person to have on hand for he is a scuba diver and runs his own shop, Aqua Center in Sandwich, MA. Greg was a great asset for this rescue for he was able to get into the water with the animal and see what was going on from that perspective.

Also assisting that afternoon was John from the DCR (Dept. of Conservation and Recreation). John came down to the pier with the departments Kubota mini 4 X 4 vehicle which was greatly needed since it had a winch on the front. And on site lending support was John from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

As the tide continued to drop, the ocean sunfish was high and dry but still wedged tight in the wooded pilings of the fishing pier. This sunfish has to be close to 7 feet in length weighing up to 400 lbs. There was no way that anyone could pick up the fish so the crew started working on trying to winch the animal out of its predicament.

While the Canal Rangers, Greg and John worked out the logistics of how to dislodge the ocean sunfish, Krill kept pouring water through the gills in an attempt to keep the gills wet. The hope was to keep oxygen flowing through the animal's body. Time was running out for this sunfish and the team knew that. Every minute counted so a number of different ways of moving the animal were tried. There was a lot of back-breaking pulling from Bob, John and the rest of the team. And even public bystanders pitched in to help.

After about an hour, the team was finally able to get the ocean sunfish back into the water. Krill and Greg gave the animal a final push into deeper water and then Greg took over from there. Greg tried to keep the sunfish upright and moving forward so water would flow into its mouth and over its gills. But the current was very strong in the canal and Greg had to let the animal go on its own.

The fish was still alive when it was released, but it had been out of the water for a long time. We hope this animal survived and will be thinking of it in the weeks to come. NECWA would like to send out a huge thank you to all the people who assisted with this rescue. It was so wondering to see all these people, some friends and colleagues, but most strangers, working together to try and save this very unfortunate fish.

Thank you to the Cape Cod Canal Rangers from the Army Corp. of Engineers including John, Samantha, JP, Ann, Roger, Michelle and the other Rangers who assisted. Thank you to John from DCR and the use of the department's 4 X 4 mini rover. Thank you to John from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Thank you to Greg McGrath for once again coming to my assistance at the drop of a hat. Thank you to the general public who helped pull the sunfish by hand in an attempt to free this animal. And a big thank you to Dominica and Bob for all their efforts during the release.

Ocean sunfish are not the most beautiful fish in the world, yes, I do have to have to admit that. They are not as cute and cuddly as a baby seal. But they are beautiful in their own right and we thank everyone who worked very hard on this animal's behalf.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wellfleet Oyster Festival - Saturday, October 16th and Sunday, October 17th

NECWA and staff from Captain John Whale Watching and Fishing Tours sponsored a tent at the local Wellfleet Oyster Festival. This festival is an annual event that just keeps getting bigger and bigger in terms of attendance each year.

People who attended the festival could enjoy fresh Wellfleet Oysters or other types of local cuisine served up by many different restaurants from around the area. Live bands played non-stop on the main stage that was situated by the food tent. And there was plenty to see as vendors from around the United States set-up tents all along the road and in the parking lots.

At the NECWA/Captain John Boats tent, families stopped by to "ohh and ahh" over the variety of whale and shark artifacts that were on display. This collection included: mako shark jaws; teeth from whales and sharks including a huge fossilized tooth of a megladon (an ancient shark); baleen from a humpback whale and a minke whale; preserved samples of copepods and sand lance; and as well as an assortment of whale bones. People stopping by our tent could also pick up a variety of educational literature on NECWA, Captain John Boats and on marine wildlife in our area.

The most popular activity at our tent was "make a fossil shark tooth necklace." Kids of all ages and sizes enjoyed picking out their fossil shark tooth and choosing beads for a "one-of-a-kind" creation. It was great fun to see all the interesting and beautiful combinations of colors and shapes as the kids chose the beads that would complement their shark tooth.

Festivals are a wonderful way for NECWA and Captain John Boats to interact and stay connected with the public. We got a chance to catch up with old friends and to make lots of new friends. Protecting our oceans and becoming involved in our community is important for it connects us with people who share our interests and concerns. We strive for clean oceans, a healthy planet and a vibrant world for both humans and the organisms that share it with us!

We think about the children that stopped by our tent and how fascinated they were with all the neat whale and shark artifacts that were on display. We are working hard to ensure that these future generations will also be able to enjoy the beautiful and truly amazing whales, dolphins, sharks and the other coastal marine wildlife that live and feed off our New England shores.

We hope everyone had a great time at the NECWA/Captain John Boats tent and we hope to see you again next October for the 2011 Wellfleet Oyster Festival.